This is from today’s Healing through Writing workshop, at the Art for Recovery center (a program of Mt. Zion’s Cancer Resource Center). The prompt was a metaphor making exercise: we created a list seven prompts, each of which contained the name of an illness, a common verb, and a noun, creating a sentence like: “trauma cries like a cow” or “breast cancer bleeds like a pen.” Here’s my write:
Trauma jumps like a star, falling over and across the page, across the sky, across through the brother and sister stars—trauma pushes open the places that weren’t supposed to be open, sheds light where before there was only an arc of black sky.
Trauma rends things, tears me, but what’s true is that after – after – I’m more open.
Here’s where I’m always left, in this reconciliation: how can it be that what was so awful could have left me a person I like now, softened, surprisable? Something I wish never would have happened, would over and over go back in time and change if I could, and still here and now I am grateful for this one life, just as it is and was.
Trauma walks in like a gun and douses like rainbows, sets down its bags and stays awhile, lives like motion and time, names new histories than the ones you thought you were going to have had. Trauma moves the goal posts and sings off key and drunkenly at the karaoke machine, trauma eats with its fingers and makes a mess on your clean kitchen floor. Trauma unlocks all the echoes and waits for no trains to come, it takes off at a run for the next moving car and then leaps.
Trauma longs for mystery but can only be its angry white self, trauma separates the white from the yolk and then smears everything together on the backs of your eyes, occluding all clear recollection, stopping the distance, the horizon, from coming up on you fast, stopping tomorrow from being visible at all. Trauma lessens the possibility of memory by feeding you drinks and shouting in your ear then it’s gone and your sweltering in a cool silent room and the curtains billow in the evening shade breeze and you wonder how you got here and what this sticky stuff is on your hands and you don’t understand yet that your angry beating heart will be the one truest friend that you have for years.